By Dr. Trevor Erikson
Spring, this glorious time of year when the world becomes alive again. The sun is higher in the sky, the days are longer, brighter and warmer. New green growth is emerging all around us. All that spring brings can make us healthier, happier and may even help fend off such nasty skin conditions as psoriasis.
The dark days of winter, with the lack of sunlight, are the absolute worse time of year for those with psoriasis. Almost everyone will find their skin flaring up, becoming more inflamed, redder, dryer, and itchier. Our skin converts ultra-violet rays from the sun into vitamin D, which our body uses to help regulate immunity and inflammation. The less sunlight we receive on our skin, the less vitamin D we are able to create, and the more psoriasis may flare.
Interestingly enough, taking a vitamin D supplement has not been shown to help psoriasis in the same way that direct sunlight can. So, as the weather warms up, get outside in shorts and T-shirt and try to absorb some of those healing rays. Of course, too much sun, in certain individuals, can be damaging. Best to tailor your skin needs to your own unique constitution, so as to avoid sunburning, photoaging and even cancer.
While outdoors enjoying the spring sunshine, it is also a good idea to be more active. Walk, work in the garden (my favourite activity), bike ride, play sports, etc. Do something that brings you joy. Studies have shown an increased risk of cardiovascular disorders in people with psoriasis, which means that doing what is ‘good for the heart, may also be good for psoriasis’. Increasing outdoor activity can help improve circulation to protect your heart, which may then also help reduce your psoriasis.
Increasing your activity outdoors will also help manage your waist size. There is a direct relationship to weight gain (especially that around the waist), type 2 diabetes, and psoriasis. Increasing your activity level helps to burn off fat, as well as helping insulin work better to digest sugar. Both of which may help decrease the severity of psoriasis.
Another good thing about spring is farm fresh vegetables, a welcome relief to the heavy foods we tend to eat in the winter months. Striving to have half your dinner plate be fresh fruits and vegetables, along with increased activity, has been shown to be the surest way to control our weight, and thus psoriasis. One of the best ways to get more spring vegetables is to visit your local farmers market or, if you have the space, grow them yourself!
It is well known now that stress can trigger autoimmune disorders like psoriasis, so using methods that help keep us calm and relaxed is a really good idea. Mindfulness practices, like meditation, help reduce stress. Increased activity, as mentioned above, helps us better cope with stress. Researchers have also noted that the bright green colour of tree leaves, as seen in spring, have a very dramatic calming effect, thus helping to take our minds off our worries and reduce stress. Less feelings of stress equals less psoriasis (hopefully!).
Spring is here, and it is a welcome friend to all of us, and especially to those suffering with psoriasis. As the weather warms up, get outside and enjoy some increased activity in the sunlight. Eat more fresh vegetables and relish in the calming green colours that the new spring growth provides.
Dr. Erikson has dedicated his life to helping others overcome skin disease. He has studied with some of the best Chinese medicine dermatologists in the world and has become an internationally respected educator using herbal medicines to treat skin disease. For over a decade, Dr Erikson has been helping people experience healthy skin, naturally. He can be reached by phone at 604.385.1213 or through his website at www.drerikson.com.